The following excerpt is from THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation by Bob Avakian
I think of the comment by people in Baltimore, when people went out to them with revolution—and it’s a comment you hear quite frequently when you go out to masses of people, taking the revolution to them. They sharply posed the question: “Will you be here? We’ve seen people come here, we’ve seen groups come and go and talk a lot of talk. But is this serious? Will you be here?” This is a very important question and poses a very direct challenge for us. We have to meet this with the answer “yes” in the immediate sense, but also in the most profound and all-around sense. We have to be here, now—and we have to be here for the whole thing. Whether any particular individual is there at a given time, that’s not the question that’s really at stake; it’s whether or not the movement for revolution and, above all, the Party, the leadership that people need to get out of this nightmare, is going to be there, in an overall and fundamental sense, because when you get down to it, ultimately the people really do have nothing if they don’t have a party based on the science that can lead them to emancipate themselves and emancipate all of humanity. This is true whether, at any given time, the people know it or not.
And I was thinking about something even heavier when reading about the work being done in Baltimore: the comment of a woman, one of the basic masses in Baltimore, who said, “I am getting worried”—when people were bringing the revolution to her—“I’m getting worried.” Now, you might say, why was she getting worried? She explained: “Because I am beginning to hope.” Now, think about what that means for the masses of people, that they are afraid to hope. Afraid to hope that maybe the world doesn’t have to be this way, that maybe there is a way out of this. Afraid to hope, because their hopes have been dashed so many times. Now, we know there’s a ruling class out there. We know how, along with the vicious repression they carry out, they maneuver and manipulate whenever the people rise up. We have seen it already again in Baltimore, for example: Oh, all of a sudden there’s a crime wave, they say; and they insist that they have to come down even heavier with the police and that they need the federal authorities to come in and help out the police, because the masses are running wild, and the police can’t go out and kill them with impunity, right now.
So, all this is why people say, “I’m getting worried.” They are afraid to hope. And if we don’t intend to meet the responsibilities that we have, if we don’t intend to follow through when we go to people and say there is a way out of this, we should get up and leave right now. Because the masses of people do not need anyone else who comes along, fly-by-night, and leaves them to the miserable conditions they will be subjected to, and the even worse horrors of this system coming down on them. We have to mean it when we say we’re serious about revolution.
This brings us to the question of for whom and for what are we doing what we’re doing. This is not about any individuals, including ourselves. This is one of the first things you have to come to grips with—that this is not about any individual, but is about something much bigger. Look, many people do come to revolution out of their own direct experiences, what this system has done to them, even though they don’t understand it’s a system—or even if they have heard this word “system,” they don’t really know what that system is. But a lot of people do come to this out of their own direct individual experience—they don’t immediately understand that it’s part of a larger picture of what’s happening to literally millions and even billions of people around the world. This is the understanding we have to bring to them. But, first of all, we have to understand: for whom and for what? This is for the emancipation of humanity. This is for the masses of oppressed humanity who desperately need this revolution. It’s not about anything else—and it’s certainly not about ourselves; it’s not about our egos, it’s not about whether we look good or don’t look good, or any of these kinds of questions that should be completely out of the picture.
I’ve talked about this before, but think about it in these terms: People are going to go out here to make a revolution, and the people who are acting as the leadership, as the vanguard, are going to sacrifice, there are going to be big sacrifices. You don’t make a revolution without tremendous sacrifice, and if we don’t understand that, once again, we should just fold up and go away. There’s going to be suffering. There’s going to be dying. There’s going to be terrible repression. There’s going to be torture. I’m not saying this to make some kind of religious-sounding appeal—“let’s gather up our courage like monks whipping themselves”—or something like that. But this is the reality of what you have to go through to get to a better world.
And here is what makes it even harder, ideologically, in terms of how you think about this, how you feel about this. People are going to sacrifice in all kinds of ways. And let’s say you have a revolution, and you’ve lost comrades, you’ve lost friends and loved ones— you’re part of the vanguard of this revolution, or you’re part of the masses who are the backbone of this revolution, and you’ve lost many friends and many comrades, you’ve seen people torn away, tortured, subjected to all kinds of horrors. Meanwhile, a lot of people sat there with their arms folded, or even sniped at you from the sidelines and tried to undermine everything you were doing. And then you get to the new society and you have a new constitution—think about the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—you have a new constitution, and all of a sudden, all these people who didn’t do a damn thing to help the revolution, and maybe even tried to undermine it, come out of the woodwork, and every time you’re trying to do something with the economy, or you’re trying to build new political institutions and bring into being new social relations, or you’re sacrificing for the world revolution—they come along and they go blee, blee, blee, blee, blee, blee, blee, blee, blee, blee, with all their little petty complaints about how they don’t have this and that, that they had in the old society. You feel like saying to them: “Shut the fuck up! You didn’t do a damn thing when people were out here sacrificing and dying in all kinds of terrible ways, and now you want to come around with your little petty complaints.” But you can’t do that. And that’s what makes it so hard. You can’t do that. You can struggle with them, you have to struggle with them. You can say, “You don’t know what the hell is going on. You don’t understand any of the contradictions we’re up against, and you should try to actually come to grips with what we’re doing here and what we’re up against.” You can struggle like crazy with people. You have to. But you can’t take revenge on them. You can’t even say, “Who the hell are you to raise any criticisms of what we’re doing, because you didn’t do anything to help—in fact, you tried to undermine things when people were out here fighting and dying.” Why can’t you do that? For whom and for what? This is not about us. If we aren’t prepared to sacrifice, then we’re not serious. This is about getting to a different world where all these horrors for the masses of people don’t go on any longer. And that’s the way we have to approach this. This is our role. This is our responsibility to the masses of people of the world who are suffering so terribly—and, what makes it all the worse, suffering so unnecessarily.
So this has to be our orientation in everything we do, in the way we struggle with each other, in the way we struggle with masses of people. There’s a need for a tremendous amount of struggle. But for whom and for what? This is what we have to keep uppermost in our mind.